Hanes HallbirnWednesday,30 January 2013

The Snap:

Super Bowl XLVII is just days away, and fans from San Francisco and Baltimore are praying for their respective teams’ success. Perhaps literally. According to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), 27% of Americans “believe that God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event.” Additionally, 43% of Americans believe that God rewards faithful athletes with good health and success. However, belief in God’s role as an active sports fan varies widely by Christian denomination and region (read: the South dominates).

Given these numbers, is God listening to more prayers from fans of the 49ers, or the Ravens?

The Download:

It’s impossible to know for sure, of course. But accordingly to PRRI, Americans who live in the western United States are the least likely to hold the view that God plays an active role in picking the winners of sporting events. Only 15% of left-coasters, in fact. And while 40% of residents of the southern U.S. believe that God helps protect quarterbacks, only 20% of northeastern Americans feel this way. So let’s put San Francisco in the 15% category, and Baltimore in the 20% category.

Another important data point: 59% of Americans consider themselves to be football fans, according to the NFL.

So 15%, 20%, 59%. Those are the numbers we know, based on actual research. Now let’s play a little loose with our data points, for fun’s sake. There are approximately 812,826 residents of San Francisco, and 619,493 residents of Baltimore (no, I did not count their respective metro areas, so suck it). If 59% of those inhabitants are football fans, and 15% of San Francisco’s fans are praying for the 49ers, while 20% of Baltimore’s fans are praying for the Ravens, then God is hearing 73,100 prayers for Baltimore and 71,935 prayers for San Francisco.

Advantage: Baltimore.

But wait, let’s pit the 49ers’ 1.673 million Facebook fans and 329,432 Twitter followers against the Ravens’ 1.341 millions Facebook fans and 270,193 Twitter followers, and assume the same 15% versus 20% ratio described above (yes, duplicates may exist — whatevs.). When added to the resident figures above, the new totals amount to over 395,000 fans believing and praying that God will intervene for a Ravens victory. Comparatively, only about 372,000 fans believe that God will step in to help out Colin Kaepernick and his San Francisco teammates.

It’s about this point that you should be thinking to yourself, “these numbers are fucking absurd.”

To which I say: Yes, 27% of America, they are.


Hat Tips:

CNN, Public Religion Research Institute,, Image Credit: Flickr

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